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Washington State Approves Mooring Buoys in Puget Sound

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved the installation of up to 19 mooring buoys at popular dive sites in five counties around Puget Sound and Hood Canal. DNR worked on this effort with the Washington Scuba Alliance (WSA). A five-year license with WSA for the buoys ends May 31, 2014.


Jim Trask began advocating for the buoys in 2006. DNR and WSA have worked very closely to locate the buoys, and the organization will install them at 14 popular recreational SCUBA diving locations. WSA expects to place 5 buoys before this year’s fish window closes and will place the others as funding becomes available.

“The Scuba Alliance has volunteered time and money to make this happen,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “I think we have a solution with these buoys that supports great diving opportunities, while preventing the damage that can occur when temporary mooring drags through eelgrass and other sensitive aquatic habitats.”

Until today, boaters have arrived and anchored at these popular sites. The result has too often been unintentional damage to sensitive near shore habitats. Anchoring vessels has caused a wide range of habitat damage from uprooting vegetation to reef destruction. Other damage has occurred from propeller scour when vessels are anchored in water that is too shallow.

“Three years of hard work is about to be realized,” said Jim. “DNR and we have developed a strong partnership with the goal of protecting our wonderful waters and sea life. Alpha Marine Installations will begin the installation of these buoys which the Alliance will maintain. WSA’s plan is to do more of these in the future and continue to help preserve our state’s aquatic resources for future generations.”

DNR has worked with the WSA on approving the most appropriate locations for the buoys.  The majority of these popular sites are only accessible by boat. In addition, the design of the buoys, lines and installation methods will result in an effort that provides boating access while protecting the marine habitat below. The current best practices include:

    * A helix anchor that drills into the seabed minimizing disturbance
    * A mid-line float to prevent anchor line dragging at low tide
    * Placement in approved water depth to eliminate prop scour to vegetation and habitat
    * Annual maintenance requirements

The installed buoys will be available for use by the general public on a first come, first served basis and will be prominently marked as such. 

 

For more details on the Washington Scuba Alliance, go to http://www.wsascuba.org/

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